Sunday, July 24, 2011

View From My Bedroom Window

Q:  Is it disconcerting to see a two-story nose from your bedroom window?

A:  Yes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


If you're picturing a cool, green Alpine existence in Colorado in the summer, you would be wrong.  The thermometer pictured above, showing 118.9°, is the actual temperature, in full blazing sun, on our terrace on Monday, July 18, at 5:50 pm.  The "official" temperature was only about 98°, but the sun is so strong when you're up a mile high.  Yes, the humidity is low, but hot is hot. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Proud Mama Grizzly

At the risk of being obnoxious, I can't help but be proud that a photograph taken by my daughter is on the cover of Newsweek this week.  You can see the images here.

Since these images are of Sarah Palin, the experience of meeting her and spending time with Sarah is the subject of a recent blog post by Emily, which you can read by clicking here.  If you have some free time on your hands, scroll down and read the many comments that this blog post engendered.  It's clear after reading them that Sarah is indeed a lightning rod - you either love her or hate her, with very few people having no strong opinion.

Back to California

Just got back from Monterey, California where I accompanied Barry to his first graduate school deans' meeting.  Monterey is in a very beautiful part of this country, but it's disappointing to see how tacky and touristy it has become. I'm not sure how the town let this happen but yucky t-shirt shops and Bubba Gump restaurants abound. Carmel, which is right next to Monterey, is still lovely with nice shops and restaurants, and no chain stores/restaurants in sight.

As most of the country baked, it was cold there.  Gray and cloudy most of the time, with high temperatures in the low 60s.

Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve 

Before I sound too whiny, let me say that we did some nice things there.  The highlight was Point Lobos State Reserve, which was magical.  We saw huge numbers of sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters, and now even know the difference between them, thanks to a helpful docent at the park. There were whales spouting in the distance. The wildflowers were in bloom, and color was everywhere. We liked it so well that we actually went twice.

Monterey Aquarium
The meeting held a dinner at Monterey Aquarium, which was nice.

Santa Cruz
On our way back to San Francisco Airport, we stopped for lunch in Santa Cruz, where the seals were hanging out a few feet away.

Traveling, when it's bad, can be such a hassle, and last night was one of those times. Our flight was delayed because of a huge lightning and hale storm in Denver, and I'm amazed that we were allowed to land at all. Once we got on the ground, we had to sit in the plane as they wouldn't let any of the planes at the gates move. A very long night. And every time I take off my shoes, get my little baggy of liquids, and pull out the electronics, I can't help but think that the terrorists have actually won by creating an atmosphere where we have to go through this drill over and over again.  Excuse my rant - I'm tired.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Colorado: Kool-Aid or Charisma?

Happy 4th!  We came back from our Colorado road trip to see amazing displays of fireworks from our terrace every night this weekend.  Last night (July 3rd) so far was the award winner with views of at least 10 fireworks displays - some very close and some very far - across the front range of the Rocky Mountains.  For a fireworks junkie like me, it was close to heaven.

But I digress as my mission here was to write about our road trip.  I have to admit it - Colorado is an amazingly beautiful state, far prettier than anyplace we've lived before. Obviously, beauty isn't everything, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Colorado wins the beauty contest award for states that we've resided in.  In fact, all of the high points of mountain ranges that I've lived near (these include the Watchung Mountains, Berkshire Mountains and North Georgia Mountains) add up to about 9,000 feet combined.   In Colorado, there are at least 55 14ers (this is Colorado-ese for peaks that are more than 14,000 feet high).

We started our trip in Vail, where we took a gondola up to the top of the mountain.  (If we were true Coloradans, we would have hiked, biked, rock climbed or found some other physically challenging way to get to the top, but, alas, our New Jersey roots were showing.)  It was so lovely up there that it took a lot of restraint on my part to keep myself from doing a full "Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music twirl."  Truly, I wanted to unfurl my arms and break out in "The Hills Are Alive . . ."

Our next stop was Ouray, Colorado, a small, historic town, where we stayed at the beautifully restored Beaumont Hotel that is pictured above.

From Ouray, we took a day trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which was a great surprise and quite striking.  Kind of like a darker version of the Grand Canyon.

On our way to our next stop, we took the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton.  A magnificent but definitely scary ride.  We looked at it on Google Earth before we left Ouray and almost chickened out by doing a 120 mile diversion rather than take this treacherous road.  We obviously lived to tell about it but I've never seen Barry driving more slowly or more carefully in all the years that we've been in a car together.  I don't have a photo that depicts how frightening a drive it actually is, but there are no guardrails (we were told so they can sweep the snow away in winter) with drops very, very near the road that are thousands of feet.  Here are a few pretty views without the fear:

View of Ouray, Colorado from Million Dollar Highway

We passed through Silverton, a cute very Western looking town, on our way to Durango.

Silverton, Colorado

Durango was not my favorite stop - very touristy and we stayed in another historic hotel, but this one was in need of an update and not so comfortable.  We spent a day in Mesa Verde National Park, which is quite an attraction.

Without being able to see the scale, the cliff dwellings built hundreds of years ago look like they could be sand castles.

But when you see the tiny people in the photo above, you can get a sense of the impressive size of these cliff dwellings.  The one we toured had 150 rooms.

So, all in all, a great trip in our new home state.  Have I drunk the Colorado Kool-Aid? Not yet, but it is a state with a lot of charismatic splendor.

[Photo credits to Barry who took lots of great pictures with his new Father's Day gift camera from Emily]